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Asylum Seekers

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 15 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to reduce the backlog in asylum claims. [112538]

We have already delivered a substantial reduction in the number of outstanding asylum claims from 121,200 at the end of January 2000. Through a range of measures, including more efficient processes and additional resources, the number of outstanding applications had reduced to 40,800 at the end of December 2002 (the latest date for which published data are currently available).We are determined to reduce the number of outstanding applications to normal work in progress levels as quickly as possible in order to achieve this, we are pursuing a clear strategy to reduce the intake of new, unfounded claims, including further radical reform of the asylum system through the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, tighter border controls, new visa regimes, and the replacement of exceptional leave to remain with a new narrower category of humanitarian protection, as well as increasing the proportion of failed asylum seekers who are removed. In addition, we will continue to speed up the decision making process whilst maintaining high quality decisions.Information on the number of outstanding asylum applications is published quarterly on the Home Office website at igrationl.html

Information on the number of outstanding asylum applications at the end of March will be published on 22 May.